2008 Supersport Shootout: CBR600RR vs Daytona 675 vs ZX-6R vs R6 vs GSX-R600

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2008 Supersport Shootout: CBR600RR vs Daytona 675 vs ZX-6R vs R6 vs GSX-R600

Post by ganahsokmo on Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:07 pm

"These things don't belong on the street!"
This has become the cry of the rational motorcyclist when the
subject of modern literbikes comes up. But what if you could have
virtually all of the same performance-driven componentry and research
and development that go into most superbikes in a motorcycle with
roughly 30-35% less spank? Would most riders, young and old, veteran and
newbie, feel like they could handle such a bike? Apparently, yes.


Supersports, or more commonly, 600s, are red-hot sellers. Editor Duke
reported back from his time at the U.S. launch of the 2008 R6 that the
tuning fork company claims "the 600cc segment makes up 51% of what
Yamaha calls the Supersport market, a segment that is up in sales a huge
52% since 2001." Yep, these things are pretty important.

The
contenders in Motorcycle.com’s 2008 Supersport Shootout.



Changing of the guard?
As a matter of fact, the supersport class may become even more
important to OEMs than it already is –whether they like it or not. When
the AMA essentially admitted to its ineptness at handling American pro
racing and announced in March of this year that Daytona Motorsports
Group was granted rights to promote, sanction and manage various AMA
racing series, one of DMG’s first moves was to change the current
structure of road racing. Starting in 2009, the premier class will
likely be the “Daytona Superbike” class. As of the writing of this
story, DMG hasn’t yet released specific rules for the new class but has
stated that the collection of contenders will include Twins, Triples and
four-cylinder bikes, and will have “middleweight performance horsepower
limits,” said to be 140 rear-wheel horsepower. In effect, this opens
the door for six more brands that DMG says fit the bill: Aprilia, KTM,
Triumph, BMW, Ducati and Buell.
Well then, guess it’s a good thing we got around to testing at least 5
of the 10 bikes potentially eligible for the new Daytona Superbike
class.
The ‘08
CBR600RR returns to the supersport fray unchanged from last year and
undaunted by the task of taking on updated models from Suzuki and
Yamaha.



Like our literbike shootout from last month, this battle supreme has a
couple of freshened-up entrants mixed in with a couple of models not
yet at the end of their model cycles. AMA Formula Xtreme reigning champ,
Honda, is naturally in the fray with its CBR600RR unchanged from last
year; same goes for Kawasaki’s 2007-08 Daytona 200-winning ZX-6R.

Though it can’t lay claim to any U.S. championships, the Daytona 675
from Triumph – unrevised since its ’06 intro – is a champion of the
hearts of many and has taken top honors in the Supersport class at the
Spain-based track-centric Supertest three years running now, and
three-peated this year in the same category in a similar uber-evaluation
called Masterbike run by the Spanish sportbike mag Motorciclismo.
Tooting our own horn a bit while paying further accolades to the English
Triple, the 675 won Motorcycle.com’s 2006 Supersport shootout as well
as our 2006 Best of the Best comparison. Phew! That’s a tough act to
follow.

Triumph’s
Daytona 675 is the old man of the group being unchanged since its 2006
introduction. This bike doesn’t need Depends though; the world seems to
love it!



This leaves the two newest bikes: the Yamaha R6 and Suzuki GSX-R600.
Both bikes received a healthy dose of revision but not so much as to
make either wildly different from last year.

For ’08 the R6 gained YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled-Intake), first
seen on the 2007 R1. Both supersport and liter machines from Yamaha now
have throttle-by-wire (YCC-T) and YCC-I. In addition, the middleweight
mill received upwards of some 50 tweaks, a couple of them being
increased compression and substantially larger crossover pipes in the
exhaust headers; the targeted goal being improved mid-range. To augment
engine improvements, the R6’s frame was updated to enhance both rigidity
and controlled flex in all the right areas. The aluminum subframe was
tossed in favor of one constructed from magnesium. Finally, things like
altered clip-on placement, new EFI, 0.5mm thicker rotors for improved
heat dissipation and revised bodywork join numerous other changes that
add up to what Yamaha calls a “brand new bike from the tires up.”
This year
was revision year for the formidable R6.



Suzuki has reason to be proud of the GSX-R600. According to Garrett
Kai, American Suzuki’s Senior Communications Specialist, it is the
best-selling machine of all the products in the company’s catalog. The
little Gixxer got a gaggle of improvements this year, and like the R6, a
heavy focus was on mid-range power improvements. Compression was pushed
from 12.3 to 12.5:1, intake ports were reshaped, valve lift was reduced
on the intake cams and exhaust pipe diameter was reduced by a scant 3mm
while overall muffler volume increased. Fueling was enhanced and
ventilation between cylinders was increased marginally to reduce pumping
losses. Though the chassis remains largely
unchanged from last year,
the GSX-R600 picked up an electronically controlled steering damper.
Improvements to braking come via changes to increase pinching power
without increasing effort at the lever. Oh, and we almost forgot, to
complete the circle, so to speak, the 2008 GSX-R600 now, like all
current Zook sport bikes, has the A-B-C of Suzuki–Drive Mode Selector.
Not only
did the 2008 GSX-R600 get engine and chassis updates, it also got a new
look. Other motorcyclists commented on it every time we parked it
somewhere.



Back in the saddle
With the players in place we summoned a motley collection of hapless
riders eager for a spin on the latest 600cc hardware and a free meal at
Outback Steakhouse. Fresh from our literbike rumpus is ex-Limey, Steve
“Speed” Kelly. Steve’s a salty veteran of the motorbike courier world,
first in Ol’ Blighty, then sunny L.A. He’s owned more bikes – and sold
‘em at a profit! – than George Barber, holds a WSMC racing license
(sourced from an I-5 rest-area bathroom) and has countless miles round a
track. He’s plenty qualified, but we just like his accent.
Steve
“Speed” Kelly returns from our 2008 Literbike Shootout. He’s English,
but we love ‘im anyway.
Kaming Ko
tagged along for the five-bike battle. This smooth cat helped us realize
how poorly we ride for people 15 years his junior.
Also returning – and still suffering mental duress – from the
literbike battle is Alexandra Bongart. Alex owns a late-model GSX-R600,
knows her way around the pits and track, and is an accomplished street
rider. She brings a fresh, female perspective to Motorcycle.com, which
is very important these days and rarely, if ever, seen in most
publications. I hate to admit it, but I’ve had a hard time keeping her
out of my mirrors during street rides.
'...we logged hundreds of street miles
through twisted mountain pavement, urban sprawl and droned the
superslab'
New to the tomfoolery is Kaming Ko. This incredibly friendly
character has a lengthy resume in Formula car racing a well as a ‘70s
motorcycle racing survivor. Kaming’s riding style is a dead give-away to
his age, as some fused vertebrae keeps him from laying over the tank in
a sportbike tuck, but he still rides faster than most us who have a
fully functional spine! Again, like the other two above, we really keep
him in the mix for ulterior motives. He has owned some of the coolest
sportbikes ever built, like the Desmosedici RR he recently let
Editor-in-Cheese Duke and me bumble around Willow on.
Finally, this time we added someone as sharp with a keyboard as he is
with a twist-grip. Mark Gardiner is to motojournalism like a
wrongly-accused inmate is to death row: full of time served and glad to
be out. Jesting aside, it needs to be known that Mark worked at
Motorcyclist magazine for a stint, raced in the Isle of Man TT, and is
an accomplished author with his well-received book, Riding Man, about
his TT experience.
Over the course of several days we logged hundreds of street miles
through twisted mountain pavement, urban sprawl and droned the
superslab. Mix in one nearly perfect day on the Big Track at Willow
Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA, where we doubled-up on sessions
courtesy of trackday company, Take It 2 The Track, and we were ready to cast
ballots in hopes of a clear-cut winner. Clear-cut? Pfft!
We employed the same scoring method as in this year’s liter comparo
wherein we took a cumulative sum of scores over 12 categories – with the
same bias toward the Engine category – that encompass the things we
care about in a motorcycle.
Let the
testing begin!



Engine
(power,
tractability, response, user-friendliness, vibration)
1.Daytona 67594%
2.CBR600RR90%
3.GSX-R60083%
4.ZX-6R78%
5.YZF-R673%

Surprise! Not exactly, but the Honda’s powerplant, being as linear as
it is, can’t quite compare to the 675’s, according to the unblinking
Dynojet at our friends at Area P. In classic inline-Triple fashion, the
Daytona makes the best use of its shootout-leading 47.9 ft-lbs of torque
in a very manageable way starting from as early as 3,000 rpm where it’s
making 36 ft-lbs. At that same mark the CBR, the next most potent
powerplant, is only making 21 ft-lbs. This middleweight represents with
near perfection the characteristics we look to consider when assessing
the engines. Power comes on early and isn’t absent in lower rpms like so
many flaccid 600cc mills. The smooth on/off throttle transitions of the
675 translates into the most tractable bike here. Driving into and
through Turn 8 at Willow revealed a rheostat-like quality: dial the
power in, roll it off gently, and then turn it back up. On the street,
Mark and Kevin kept using the phrase “cheater motor” after climbing out
of the saddle with silly grins on their faces.

As you can
tell from the orange line, the Triumph's motor makes more power at
nearly every point on the graph. The Honda (red) and Suzuki (light blue)
trade spots for best among the four-cylinder bikes. The R6 has big
power up top but lags behind the others everywhere else, which greatly
affected its street performance scores.



Set the oddball aside for a moment and the CBR is clearly the best
powered of the four Fours. In many ways it mirrors the 675. It, too, has
an exceptional amount of user-friendliness, as it doesn’t require its
neck be wrung for maximum fun. Feed the throttle in from way down the
rpm range and the Honda pulls more like a 750cc Four, its powerful grunt
belying its displacement. “Not sure how the hell Honda does it, but
this bike rips out of corners,” exclaimed Speed Kelly. That’s a good
observation considering it shares identical bore and stroke figures (67 x
45.2mm) with the other three Japanese machines. The simple answer is
that the CBR is just a tick shy of the 675 in terms of horsepower and
torque. With 105 ponies peaking at 14,100 rpm and 46 ft-lbs maxing out
in the 12,500 rpm neighborhood, it’s a force to be reckoned with and
understandable why the bike has been so successful in AMA Formula
Xtreme.

The 675’s
smashing success in the Engine category was thanks to all the
wonderfully torquey things its inline-Triple mill offers.



It seems Suzuki’s efforts paid dividends in the search for more
mid-range usability. It doesn’t have the stonk of the 675 but pulls with
authority – save for a soft spot around 7,000 – as early as 4,500 rpm
making 30 ft-lbs. The GSX-R600 actually outpaces the CBR’s torque
figures by 2-3 lbs on average from just below 3k until about 8k where
the CBR leaves the Gixxer behind. The strange thing here is that
seat-of-the-pants sensation is quite the opposite. We’re attributing the
Honda’s shorter gearing for its extra-torquey feel. The Gixxer offers
smooth throttle transitions and trouble-free fueling that are the work
of Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve system, and a new ECU controls fueling as
well as a valve in the exhaust system. Torque is quickly becoming the
new catch-phrase in supersport tuning. The end result is a more robust
spread of power that brings the GSX-R closer to the CBR and Daytona in
terms of greater everyday usability. One small negative with the Zook’s
mill is that seemed to be buzzier than most on the freeway.






The current ZX-6R is likely at the end of its lifecycle, and it’s
starting to show in the face of the competition. Before all the Ninja
loyalists start planning to burn us at the stake for such blasphemy, we
fully and readily acknowledge the ZX as a very excellent choice, and the
Ninja’s motor seemed the smoothest among the buzzy inline-Fours. But,
the Green Machine was dead last in the horsepower race, posting a
sub-par 97.7 hp in stock form, according to our pals at AreaP and their
reliable Dynojet dynamometer. There’s something of a minor controversy
regarding the tuning of the ZX, something you’ll want to read more about
in the below sidebar.


<table align="right">

<tr>
<td>Duke
learns that meeting EPA regulations hampers racetrack performance.
</td></tr>
<tr>
<td>Really
cheap power boost.

</td></tr>
<tr>
<td>
</td></tr></table>
ZX-6R
Free Horsepower!

By Kevin Duke

Pity the poor sportbike engineers who must find a way to create 599cc
engines that produce 100 horsepower at the rear wheel while meeting
every-stricter exhaust emissions regulations. And while spent exhaust
gases must be cleaner than ever, noise emissions must also be kept in
check, although that standard hasn’t been revised in decades.



Nowhere is that more apparent than Kawasaki’s ZX-6R. Since its 2005
iteration, the ZX’s ECU includes programming which closes a valve in the
exhaust at high revs, restricting its top-end power and reducing its
overrev zone past the engine’s power peak. (European ZX’s aren’t
afflicted, as they have different sound-level regulations across the
Pond.) This combines to make the stock Ninja feel less exciting, and its
rapid power loss once past the engine’s peak forces some extra
gearshifts, especially when riding in the power-hungry environment of a
racetrack. Our ZX test unit was the least powerful 600 on the dyno,
spinning up just 97.7 hp at its peak.

But why is the Kawi saddled with this limitation while the other OEMs
don’t seem to suffer from similar programming? That’s been difficult to
identify, but Kawi reps assure us their bikes adhere to the obfuscatory
EPA noise regulations guidelines that are
self-regulated by the OEMs.
“All Kawasaki street motorcycles, including the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R,
sold in the United States have been designed to meet all current U.S.
emissions and noise regulations for street-legal motorcycles,” is Team
Green’s official statement on the subject. Since the sportbikes from
other OEMs aren’t similarly affected, the implication is they aren’t
meeting the same requirements.


Glenn Hansen, Suzuki’s communications manager, explained to us that
the ECUs on Suzuki products bound for America are different than their
Euro counterparts, and he added that all their bikes meet current
regulations. He pointed out that using dual mufflers on Suzuki’s
GSX-R1000 was partially the result of meeting noise edicts.
Lucky for ZX trackday riders (off-road-use only, doncha know? Nudge,
nudge, wink, wink, say no more…), the party-pooping programming can
quickly be defeated. Simply unplug the cap of the four-pin electrical
connection under the seat and bridge the black/yellow wires to the
green/dark green wires across from each other in the connector. This
defaults the ECU to European spec and lets the engine breathe at high
rpm by keeping the exhaust “power” valve open.


When we performed this trick on our ZX, we found a 5-hp increase
(102.8 hp) in peak power, making it competitive with its rivals, but the
biggest improvement was in the overrev zone above 13,000 rpm where the
stock ECU programming strangles the Ninja. There is nearly a 10-hp gap
at 14,000 rpm, with the stock bike wheezing out 93.4 ponies to the
modified ECU’s 102.7.


It should be noted that the Ninja doesn’t feel particularly down on
power during street rides, as it’s only when screaming up near maximum
revs that this shortcoming becomes apparent. But it’s too bad that the
stock bike needs an excuse, because in race trim the ZX-6Rs are
formidable foes in the Supersport and Formula Xtreme race classes.

In stock
form, the ZX-6R runs out of breath at high revs, but the ECU jumper mod
lets it run like it should. In modified form, it posted a 5-horse boost
in horsepower and a much more usable overrev zone.



The R6 trails behind the others in terms of streetable power. It
doesn’t make 30 ft-lbs until 6,000 rpm, then manages to dip below 30 for
a short rpm range, then regains its composure at almost 8,000 where it
barely makes 31.5 ft-lbs; at 8k rpm the Gixxer is making nearly 6 more
ft-lbs. Though the ZX-6R sees a modestly better 32.5 ft-lbs in the same
spot, it’s more linear much earlier than the R6 as it starts to see
those 32 ft-lbs as soon as 5,000 rpm. Where the Yamaha shines is beyond
the 13,000 mark where it screams, quite literally, to 100 hp, leaving
the green bike in its dust. Unfortunately for street riders, the fun
zone on the Yammie is all at the top. Racers won’t care.


Transmission
(clutch
actuation/modulation, shift ease, precision, slipper clutch)
1.ZX-6R98%
2.GSX-R60088%
3.CBR600RR80%
4.YZF-R677%
5.Daytona 67572%

The two-year old Ninja may be lagging a bit these days in overall
peak power and torque figures, but it seems it is still a step ahead in
the gearbox game. The close-ratio six-speed cassette-style tranny is the
poster kid for snick-snick shifting. Not unlike its bigger brother, the
ZX-10R that shared top honors in this category with the Honda CBR1000RR
in our liter comparo, the 6R’s tranny is essentially transparent.
Taskmaster Duke often spoke of the 6R’s shifting as “light-action,” and
never seemed anything short of impressed with its slipper-clutch. For
myself, I couldn’t deny the impeccable function of the components that
make the bike shift, but I also couldn’t help but note – whether on
track or street – what felt like short gearing on top.

There’s a pretty big gap between the Kaw and the Suzuki here, but the
Zook is still pretty damn good, especially its back-torque-limiting
clutch. As Kevin reported from his time at the Misano unveiling of the
‘08 Suzuki, the company “… added an additional clutch plate with revised
friction material and a modified drive cam shape.” Those minor clutch
tweaks and a very smooth shifting transmission kept the junior Gixxer
solidly in second in this category.

The
ZX-6R’s transmission and clutch were rated highest for their performance
on the track as well as on the street. Both worked flawlessly.



“Why such a poor showing for the CBR,” you might rightly ask when
normally it’s raves all ‘round for most Honda shifting. The fact is that
the RR is really quite good – as basically all of them are – but in
such a closely contested battle small things stand out. There are some
commonalities and some stark differences in this quintet: all five have
cable-actuated clutches, yet only three have slipper clutches. The Honda
is one of two slackers. Now that Big Red’s liter machine has one,
Honda’s fans can sleep easy tonight knowing that the next iteration of
the CBR600RR will have one too.

The R6’s biggest failing was a clutch that engaged near the end of
lever travel making for some temperamental shifting on the street and
thus was relegated to fourth spot. The 675 suffered “slightly notchy”
shifting and is the other delinquent in this group without a slipper

Handling
(quickness,
feedback, stability, confidence)
1.CBR600RR 93%
2.ZX-6R 90%
3.Daytona 675 90%
4.GSX-R600 87%
5.R677%

Claiming its first, first-place finish in the category of Handling,
the nimble CBR600RR did the best job in the majority of our testers’
minds. Its chassis dimensions aren’t exceptionally flightier than the
other four, and it is only rivaled by the 675 which has substantially
shorter trail (86.8 vs. 97.7mm) and identical rake (23.5º).
Nevertheless, the Honda simply was “the easiest to flick from side to
side, yet was super stable mid-corner,” according to trackday junkie
Steve. Along with the shortest wheelbase (53.9”) the Honda boasts the
most advanced steering stabilizer in the group. Having improved greatly
from its first edition, the HESD – discreetly hidden under the front lip
of the fuel tank – is the perfect ally to “add stability to a bike with
aggressive steering geometry,” notes Duke. If there’s a drawback to the
HESD it is that steering can seem a touch on the heavy side when
initiating a turn at high speeds, as the complex steering damper
considers vehicle speed, throttle position and rate of acceleration when
determining the amount of resistance to apply. The CBR’s handling is
also aided by the superb Dunlop Qualifiers.

The Daytona most closely resembles the Honda’s handling as it has the
aforementioned tiniest trail figure that could make for skittish
handling, but it’s balanced out by a 54.8-inch wheelbase and a
non-electronic steering damper. In addition, the 675 is the most
waif-like in the collection. From tip to tail the Daytona is skinny. The
bike’s narrow waist and slim fuel tank make for easy and unencumbered
movement across the saddle when transitioning between corners. Add in
the most excellent Pirelli Dragon Supercorsas, and it starts to become
clear why the Tri has been the top choice in so many magazine evals and
large group tests.

Handling
supremacy is a hallmark of the CBR600RR. It scored highest for its light
and accurate steering and its confidence-inspiring stability.



The Ninja still managed to “feel lighter than the 675” at the track
according to El Duke, despite the longest wheelbase at 55.3 inches, a
modest 25 degrees of rake and a crazy-long-by-class-standards 109mm of
trail. The 6R’s wide, flat clip-on placement helps mask the lazy
geometry, as does its lack of steering damper. Its stability-inducing
geometry and a set of Bridgestone BT015 tires had Speed Kelly saying the
“Kawi handled like it's super-glued to the tarmac!”

ganahsokmo

Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 35

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